Mexico, Central America, & the Caribbean: Intense water deficits forecast for S Mexico & E Jamaica

27 September 2018

THE BIG PICTURE
The 12-month forecast ending May 2019 indicates severe to exceptional water deficits in Mexico’s Gulf and southern states. Moderate deficits are forecast in the central north and in central Baja.

In Central America, moderate deficits are forecast for Guatemala and El Salvador. Some pockets of surplus are forecast in southeastern Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and eastern Panama.

In the Caribbean, deficits are forecast for western Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, and Puerto Rico, and may be severe in Cuba.

FORECAST BREAKDOWN
The 3-month maps (below) show the evolving conditions in more detail.

Though deficits in the region are expected to diminish and downgrade over the next few months, the forecast through November indicates severe to exceptional deficits for Mexico’s northern Baja Peninsula and in states along the southern Gulf and across to the Pacific. Moderate deficits are expected in pockets across the country from Sinaloa in the west to Tamaulipas in the east, as well as in the Yucatan. Some surpluses are forecast for eastern Sonora into western Chihuahua.

In Central America, moderate to severe deficits are forecast for Guatemala; moderate deficits are forecast from western Honduras through eastern El Salvador and western Nicaragua. Surpluses reaching exceptional intensity are expected in eastern Costa Rica. In the Caribbean, deficits are forecast for Jamaica, Haiti, and Puerto Rico, and may be extreme in eastern Jamaica.

From December through February, anomalies across northern Mexico will be relatively mild, but severe to exceptional deficits will persist in the south and will emerge along Central America’s Pacific coast. Costa Rica will begin to transition from surplus to deficit and moderate deficits will emerge in Panama. In the Caribbean, intense deficits will persist in eastern Jamaica.

The forecast for the final three months – March through May – indicates that intense deficits will persist in southern Mexico and northern Central America, moderate to severe deficits will emerge in southern Baja and central and north-central Mexico, and surpluses will emerge along the Rio Grande.

(It should be noted that forecast skill declines with longer lead times.)

IMPACTS
Farmers in Mexico are blaming a nearby Volkswagen plant for recent regional drought due to its use of hail cannons to prevent hail from forming and damaging inventory. Though hail cannons, or some version of them, have been used for hundreds of years, there is no evidence that they are effective at dissipating hail clouds. But both Volkswagen and local farmers are nevertheless convinced, and the farmers are seeking nearly $3.7 million in compensation for over 5,000 acres of drought-affected croplands, claiming the cannons prevented precipitation.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the United Nations World Food Programme warned that a possible El Niño event will threaten food security in drought-vulnerable areas of Central America between September and December of this year. The governments of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras have reported 281,000 hectares (694,366 acres) of drought-related losses of staple crops corn and beans. The chances of an El Niño event are around 60 percent according to the International Research Institute for Climate and Society.

Cuban officials have calculated the economic toll of drought in the last four years at 1.5 billion dollars. The recent drought, the most extensive Cuba has seen in over 100 years, is affecting 80 percent of the country. A Cuban agronomist has developed a methodological tool to determine drought-resilience of farms. The tool, introduced at the 10th International Congress on Disasters held in Havana in July, is backed by international aid and was part of a study that establishes features of resilient farms and proposes farm management strategies and lists of services and funds available.

Heavy rain caused flooding which shut down highways in Belize City late last month.

NOTE ON ADMINISTRATIVE BOUNDARIES
There are numerous regions around the world where country borders are contested. ISciences depicts country boundaries on these maps solely to provide some geographic context. The boundaries are nominal, not legal, descriptions of each entity. The use of these boundaries does not imply any judgement on the legal status of any territory, or any endorsement or acceptance of disputed boundaries on the part of ISciences or our data providers.

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Many analyses reported in ISciences-authored blog posts are based on data generated by the ISciences Water Security Indicator Model (WSIM). Other sources, if used, are referenced in footnotes accompanying individual posts. WSIM is a validated capability that produces monthly reports on current and forecast global freshwater surpluses and deficits with lead times of 1-9 months at 0.5°x0.5° resolution. This capability has been in continuous operation since April 2011 and has proven to provide reliable forecasts of emerging water security concerns in that time-frame. WSIM has the ability to assess the impacts of water anomalies on people, agriculture, and electricity generation. Detailed data, customized visualizations, and reports are available for purchase.

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